QUITO, ECUADOR – The Mexico national soccer team was plunged into crisis just days ahead of the Copa America after eight players were suspended Tuesday over allegations they invited prostitutes to their team hotel.
Team director Hector Gonzalez Inarritu confirmed the players, currently training in Ecuador, had been handed six-month bans for breaching Mexico's code of discipline.
He did not divulge details of their transgressions but reports in the Mexican media alleged the eight were dropped for inviting prostitutes to their Quito hotel.
The eight players -- Israel Jimenez, Nestor Vidrio, Jonathan Dos Santos, Marco Fabian, Jorge Hernandez, Javier Cortes, David Cabrera and Nestor Calderon -- were also fined 50,000 pesos ($4,200) each by the Mexican Soccer Federation.
They had been preparing to leave Ecuador for Argentina to compete in the Copa America, South America's premier international soccer tournament, which kicks off Friday.
According to the reports, the players' alleged antics came to light when members of the Mexican party reported items such as iPads, cell phones and cash had gone missing from their rooms.
When officials checked the hotel's closed circuit television system they saw six women being escorted into the building by a team representative. Reports allege the women were prostitutes.
"They are young and can make mistakes but also must bear the consequences, assuming responsibility," Gonzalez Inarritu said, according to Mexico's El Universal newspaper.
"I also extend an apology to all the fans for this type of events should not occur again."
Mexico's first game of the tournament is July 4 against Chile.